Conservation and listed buildings
Cheshire East has a rich legacy of historic buildings which are protected through "conservation areas" and a system of "listing" by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
The Heritage Conservation Team provide a focus on the Historic Environment, one of the team's major roles is advising on planning proposals for new developments and alterations to existing buildings. This is a statutory requirement laid out under a series of English laws, including the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act (1979), and the National Planning Policy Framework which sets out the Governments' planning polices for England.
Conservation areas are areas of special character whose qualities the Council aims to protect and enhance. There are currently 76 conservation areas within Cheshire East, ranging from the whole town centre of Knutsford to small village groups such as Disley and Lower Peover, or industrial settlements like Styal and Bollington.
In conservation areas, consent is needed before demolitions can take place. The size of house extensions that can be built without permission is smaller than elsewhere, and six weeks notice of work to trees must be given. The council expects full planning applications to be submitted, showing the entire impact of proposed development on the conservation area. In some conservation areas an Article 4 Direction is in force. This means that an application has to be made to the local planning authority for relatively minor changes to the external appearance of the buildings.
Listed buildings are those of particular merit, for reason of architectural quality or to illustrate social or economic history or association with well known characters or events, or because of their group value with other listed buildings. The schedule of listed buildings is compiled and amended as appropriate by English Heritage and can be inspected in the planning department or by visiting the Heritage Gateway Website. Cheshire East has a wealth of historic buildings, 47 are of the highest grade (Grade I) signifying their importance as Buildings of Outstanding Interest.
The older and rarer a building is, the more likely it is to be listed. All buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are listed, as are most built between 1700 and 1840. After that date, the criteria become tighter with time, because of the increased number of buildings erected and the much larger numbers which have survived, so that post-1945 buildings have to be exceptionally important to be listed. Buildings less than 30 years old are only rarely listed, if they are of outstanding quality and under threat.
The three grades of listed buildings
- Grade I buildings are those of exceptional interest
- Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
- Grade II are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them
The majority of the 2,637 listed buildings in Cheshire East are Grade II, being of special interest and worthy of preservation. Exceptionally, about 179 are distinguished further as Grade II* and 47 as Grade I.
Pictures of some of Cheshire East's listed buildings can be found on the Heritage Gateway Website - search on the building name or address (this site contains all the listed building in England).
Details of grade I and II* listed buildings considered to be "At Risk" by English Heritage can be found on the English Heritage Buildings at Risk website.
Locally listed buildings
Cheshire East Council has prepared a Local List of Historic Buildings and accompanying Supplementary Planning Document. This document is intended to identify buildings and structures within Cheshire East that are of local importance yet without another form of national historic environment designation.
Listed building consent
Before demolishing or altering any part of a listed building in any way that affects its character, listed building consent is required from the council, even if planning permission is not required.
A listed building application is handled like a planning application, but there are differences in the way the application is considered and advertised. No fee is payable for an application for listed building consent.
Work may include changes to the inside of the building, anything fitted to it, outbuildings, walls or other site features. The fact that the building is listed may justify relaxing some of the building regulations. Having to ask for permission to make even small changes to a building does not mean that no changes are allowed. The council wants to make sure that new work fits in with the old, whether it is a large extension or new windows.
Please refer to National Planning Policy Framework for guidance on planning policies for the conservation of the historic environment.